BELLEVILLE — The City Council on Monday voted 11-3 to go with the lowest rate when bargaining for electricity, regardless of the energy source, and for a contract length that is between 17 and 24 months.
Mayor Mark Eckert and City Clerk Linda Fields will represent the city at the bid on Dec. 11 in Granite City.
The majority of aldermen said they believe residents approved electric aggregation in a binding referendum in November because they wanted the cheapest electricity supply rates.
The renewable energy option likely would cost about 3 percent more than traditional energy sources, Eckert said. An average household would pay about $8 more per year if the city chooses renewable energy.
Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden said this could equal $150,000, from about 20,000 households, that could be spent in the community instead.
Eckert said he believes using green energy would be an important statement for Belleville to make as a leader in the state.
Ward 5 Alderman Phil Silsby said he respected arguments from both sides and said the city could choose to go with the cheapest option now and take time to study the renewable energy issue before the next contract negotiations in 17 months.
Ward 6 Alderman Dave Martinson voted "yes."
Ward 2 Alderwoman Dorothy Meyer, Ward 6 Alderman Paul Seibert and Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore voted "no."
Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult and Ward 3 Alderman Rob Anderson were absent.
Some residents spoke in favor of the city choosing the renewable energy option, citing economic and environmental reasons.
"Obviously climate change is happening and it needs to be addressed on a local level," Alex Enyart said.
Other residents questioned the renewable energy option. They pointed out that even if the city approves green energy, it does not mean Belleville residents will be using such energy in their homes.
Eckert and Emily Fultz, the city's economic development and planning manager, said the renewable energy option means the city will be buying renewable energy credits. These renewable energy certificates will then serve as "currency" to fund other renewable energy markets.
There's no way to know if the energy the city has purchased is from a local source, or if the energy is coal or renewable energy, after the energy is "on the grid," Fultz said.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.